It is real out here when I start to quote Taylor Swift. I was going to give this piece a different title along the lines of "Shut Up and Sing", but I think I can save that for later (because we know there will be a reason soon enough). And as much as I hate to admit it, Swift is always on trend:
So let's dig into this. Taylor Swift, a pop star that I find tolerable enough, issued this statement on Instagram in which she declares her support for a Democrat man over a Republican woman for Senate in her home state of Tennessee. This is news because until this point, Swift has been rather apolitical and has a gizillion impressionable young coming-of-voting-age followers (to whom she directed this statement). Predictably, some of her stans were upset, most notably Charlie Kirk, who posted this lovely patronizing tweet in response. Others voiced outrage that Ms. Swift deigned to have a political opinion because she is an entertainer, you know with beautiful gowns.
I don't have an opinion about Taylor Swift's opinion (actually I do, but let's not worry about that). However, I have an opinion about people telling other people when they can speak. I have an opinion about people feeling entitled to determine whether someone else's opinion is informed enough to matter. I have an opinion about folks who seem to think that an alternative political point of view as expressed by a celebrity deserves a mass boycott or a record sale ban or a ritualistic poster/tee shirt burning.
This all or nothing ideological purity matrix we seem to be stuck in is getting insane. We are so polarized that every decision has a political implication from where we choose to eat, shop, what we wear, what shows we watch, and now which artists we will support. Not that I haven't been caught up in this too, because there are some businesses that I refuse to patronize and obviously, I have had issues with various artists as well. I won't claim to be immune from the temptation to allow my political leanings dictate my personal life choices, but I would like to think that I am tolerant enough to recognize there will be some inconsistencies. I am not going to go out of my way to boycott a James Woods film because he is a conservative; it's more likely that I won't watch one because he is a douche.
When I found out a few years ago that William Shatner might be a conservative, it was a bit disappointing, but I like Star Trek much more than I care about his political leanings. I am sure that Charlton Heston went to his grave clutching a rifle in his cold, dead hands, but that does not mean that I will pass on my annual ritual of watching the Ten Commandments. I don't listen to country music anyway, so I wouldn't call my choice not to listen a boycott. I am not going to cut up the New Balance sneakers that were given to my mother and I probably won't be burning any of the Hub's Polo shirts because of the Charlottesville rioters. If I can't sleep, I am going to watch my Frasier reruns regardless of how Kelsey Grammar may have voted in the last election. And if Chuck Woolery were to come out of retirement to host a game show...(on second thought, that is a bridge too far).
However, I still refuse to watch FOX News unless I am channel-hopping for an alternative 'factual' perspective. I will never sit through a marathon of The Apprentice (unless I've died and gone to hell), and I wouldn't so much as use the bathroom at Trump Tower. I don't eat at Chik-fil-A and I won't shop at Hobby Lobby (or visit their Bible Museum). On principle, I don't shop at Wal-Mart, yet I have had to venture down that rabbit hole in emergencies. I have an ongoing personal boycott of Koch Industry products, but I appreciate their support of HBCUs and public broadcasting. So what is a conscious Busy Black Woman to do?
Live and let live. I don't know the political leanings of every musician or artist I enjoy, so I'm willing to invite Chrisette Michele back to the BBQ. If folks are sneaking plates to Omarosa and cheering for Tiger Woods again, that is the least we can do. (And hold up, I didn't even know that she performed with Travis Greene, who escaped the same level of draggage!?) Y'all can stop acting surprised that Willie Nelson, the oldest working hippie in the business, is backing a liberal candidate in Texas. For goodness sake, he is featured on We Are the World, so how are you just catching on to his politics?
Taylor Swift is a smart woman. She has been in the business long enough to know how to find the right moment, so her choice to wade into the political waters now is not some random occurrence. She expressed an opinion and then encouraged her followers to do their research and then to register to vote. She figured that some people would get social media mad, but honestly, it isn't her fan base that is upset, it is their parents. Those newly converted followers of Kanye West because they are more worried about their sons being falsely accused of sexual assault than they are afraid for their daughters becoming victims?